The Carey Show “The Secret in my Son’s Closet.”

WARNING! THE CAREY SHOW MAY CONTAIN MATERIAL NOT SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN OR THE OVERLY SENSITIVE! PARENTAL DISCRETION ADVISED! ALSO THOSE OTHER DISCRETIONS THAT NO ONE TALKS ABOUT!

SECOND WARNING! THIS SHOW DOES NOT PASS THE BECHEDEL TEST! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED! TWICE NOW!

A rambunctious AUDIENCE stands and applauds.

AUDIENCE:
Carey! Carey! Carey!

In front of us, a standard afternoon tabloid talk show interview. CAREY, mediator and host, stands in the audience and talks to the camera.

CAREY:
Today on the show, we have a son hiding a dark secret from his own father.

The audience gasps!

CAREY:
Say hello to Mr. Treble.

Mr. Treble, loving father in a ten gallon cowboy hat, struts his way to the interview area. He waves to the audience. The audience claps for him a bit too enthusiastically. He takes his hat off and finds his seat.

CAREY:
Mr. Treble, tell the audience what secret you think your son is hiding.

MR. TREBLE:
I think my son might be a gay.

The audience gasps!

MR. TREBLE:
And he’s ashamed of it.

The audience gasps!

CAREY:
Tell us more.

MR. TREBLE:
Bout a month or two ago. He got some new posters. Hung em on his wall. Posters of half-naked men.

The audience gasps!

CAREY:
That does sound pretty gay.

MR. TREBLE:
I asked my boy about it. He took em down. Looked in his room under his bed other day, found a copy of Playgirl in there.

The audience scratches their heads.

CAREY:
That’s the girl version of Playboy if some of you don’t know. It has a strong following in the gay community.

The audience gasps!

MR. TREBLE:
That’s not the strangest thang. I woke up late at night to check in on him. Round two or four a.m. My own son. I seen it with my own two eyes. He had on a woman’s dress!

The audience ooohs!

CAREY:
Was it his mother’s dress?

MR. TREBLE:
Don’t know bout that. I don’t give a lick of attention to what that silly woman wears.

CAREY:
Did you talk to your son about it?

MR. TREBLE:
No. I don’t know much about the queer folk. Didn’t know what to do. That’s why I’m here.

CAREY:
Put a picture of Lance up on the screen.

A picture of Lance, fifteen-year-old skinny white kid in a wifebeater, pops up on the screen. The audience awes.

MR. TREBLE:
Ain’t got no problem with the gays. Not raised that way. They people just like us. They just smells nicer and got sillier haircuts. I want my son be true to himself. Come out of the crawlspace as them queers say.

CAREY:
You mean come out of the closet.

MR. TREBLE:
We don’t have closets in my house. Don’t believe in ’em.

CAREY:
Right….

MR. TREBLE:
I’ll always love my boy no matter what. I just want him to talk to me.

Mr. Treble wipes tears from his eyes.

The audience awes.

CAREY:
Let’s give him the chance! Bring out Lance!

TWO SECURITY GUARDS carry a confused LANCE out by his arms and plop him into his seat.

LANCE:
What the hell’s going on here?! Pop?!

CAREY:
Calm down. We’re here to help you, Lance. I’m Carey. This is the Carey Show.

LANCE:
I’m on TV?!

CAREY:
Your father asked for my help so you could tell your little secret.

MR. TREBLE:
Anything you want to tell me, boy?

LANCE:
You had these men kidnap me from school to go on this terrible show?

MR. TREBLE:
Boy. That’s not what we’re here to talk about.

CAREY:
Be honest with your father. You got a secret you want to share.

LANCE:
No.

MR. TREBLE:
Why won’t you be open with me, boy? I love ya. I love ya with all my heart.

CAREY:
I thought this might happen. That’s why we have an expert here with us today to help. He’s a member of the local chapter for Lebgetiqu? Leebgootkwu? Libgitoo? Am I pronouncing that right? Paulie Dianger.

Paulie, a rotund balding slimeball in an marriage equality shirt, steps forward to an open microphone stand.


PAULIE:

It’s L.G.B.T. Not a word. An acronym.

He smiles into the camera and licks his dry lips.

MR. TREBLE:
What’s all that then?

PAULIE:
L. G. B. T. Lesbian. Gay. Bisexual. Transgender.

MR. TREBLE:
Lesbian, a gay, bisexual?What in tarnation is a bisexual?

LANCE:
Pop that’s when-

PAULIE:
Sssh. Let the expert in queerology explain. A bisexual is a person sexually attracted to men and women. They know how to have a good time with the ferocity of the male penis and the elegance of flowery vagina.

MR. TREBLE:
You telling me, there’s people who like BOTH?! WHAT?!

LANCE:
Pop, you never heard of that before?

MR. TREBLE:
No. You kids and your new fangled fascinations. I can’t keep up.

LANCE:
Bisexuals been around for like fifty years pop.

MR. TREBLE:
All these letters are too confusing. Can’t you cut it down for the older folk? Lesbians and gay same thang. Ain’t it redundant having both? These “Bisexuals” seem to be a gays too. Make it GT. For gays and those transatlantics whatever them are.

PAULIE:
There’s also a Q and sometimes an “I”. Forgot to mention that.

MR. TREBLE
What in the hell do those stand for?!

PAULIE:
I don’t know.

LANCE:
WAIT! POP! YOU THINK I’M GAY?!!

CAREY:
Lance, settle down! Let Mr. LMFAO continue.

PAULIE:
Lance, you need to come out of the closet. It’s 2015. Have no fear that you’re queer! Scream it to the world! I am gay and you should support me today! All of you here today can support Lance and his queerness by buying a T-shirt! Support the cause! One marriage equality shirt here for a 13.95! Two for 32.65!

He reaches down into a box and starts pulling out shirts.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:
That’s almost a deal! I’ll take seven!

PAULIE:
Be the first on your block to show your support. Spread the awareness. That’s the most important part of any movement. Make everyone aware! Buy a shirt for your mom and your dad! Don’t forget little Jimmy.

SLY AUDIENCE MEMBER:
Gay marriage is already legal here. What’s this money going toward exactly?

PAULIE:
Listen to this one here with his questions. “Where’s the money going?” This is a sophisticated form of homophobia. He’s afraid of gays being equal. Don’t ask where’s the money going. Ask where is this country going. And that’s forward. Ignorant people like you are getting left behind. You should all buy an extra t-shirt just to spite this homophobic bigot.


AUDIENCE MEMBER:

I’ll buy three more!

LANCE:
I’m not gay!

MR. TREBLE:
But son….those posters of naked men. And the playgirl under your bed.

LANCE:
You found that?! Pop. I’ll give to ya straight. No pun intended. I’m working out now. Those Playgirl models are in great shape. I appreciate their aesthetics without deriving any sexual satisfaction. I aspire to be them, not be in them.

MR. TREBLE:
What about the dress?

Lance blushes.

LANCE:
What? Pop you talking crazy.

MR. TREBLE:
I am your only father. Don’t lie to your own blood. You wear a woman’s dress at night!

LANCE:
It’s not a woman’s dress. It’s mine! My dress!

MR. TREBLE
So you admit it then!

LANCE:
Yea I do! I wear a dress! I love it!

The audience is too preoccupied with buying marriage equality shirts to gasp.

LANCE:
I hate boxers! I hate briefs! I hate boxer-briefs! Pop, I WANT TO BE FREE! From all the restraints of cotton. Free to feel the breeze between my knees! Free to be pretty!

BEARDED MAN IN A DRESS:
Preach on brother!

LANCE:
I ain’t no queer, pop. I’m as straight as you. Just I like wearing dresses like Carey like wearing those pants.

CAREY:
I hate these pants.

LANCE:
You shoulda talk to me at home. Why on this show? In front of millions of people who can’t afford basic cable and have to watch this crap?

MR. TREBLE:
I didn’t know what to do. I saw this show on the TV and I called and they a said they’d help. I’m sorry. Pop did you wrong, boy.

LANCE:
Shows like this exploit pain. Only the scummiest of the scummy make a living off exploiting other people’s suffering.

Carey hides his face. Paulie pockets a wad of cash.

PAULIE:
Be sure to get a bumper sticker with that t-shirt. Don’t forget to download the marriage equality app! It’s on Google Play. Only 4.99!

MR. TREBLE:
I shoulda talked to ya. I’m sorry, boy.

LANCE:
It’s alright Pop. I forgive ya. You still me pop. I always love ya.

MR. TREBLE:
You too good to me, boy.

The two hug. Mr. Treble starts to choke up. The audience awes.

Paulie rubs his double chin sinisterly, then waddles over to the father and son.

PAULIE:
Now this is a sight to see. Father and son reunited. I can feel the love. Kid, let me tell your story. We need to spread awareness of cross-dressing. I see shirts, bumper stickers, posters, Facebook profile pictures and more. I’ll talk to some people. Maybe we can add a C between the B and G.

MR. TREBLE:
That’s alright, Mr. Gay Man. We don’t need your-

PAULIE:
Woah buddy! I’m not gay. Ew. I’m a straight ally.

LANCE:
Pop. I got this one. Cross-dressing don’t need help. You ought to spread awareness of crushed nuts. Not too many folks know bout that.

PAULIE:
Crushed nuts? What’s that?

Lance KNEES him in the crotch. Paulie drops.

LANCE:
Now you’re aware!

MR. TREBLE:
That’s my boy!

The two walk off stage as the audience claps!

CAREY:
Isn’t it great? Up next we have a couple going through some trouble. She has a foot fetish. He lost the lower half of his fighting for our freedoms overseas. Should they stay together? Can you love someone when they’re only half a person? Stay tuned.

How To Stand In An Elevator When A Man Farts

You walk in the elevator and press your floor number. It’s a few floors up. You prepare yourself for some self reflection. Or you start send out a morning text to the bae with two smiley faces. Cause she’s worth that.

Then elevator stops on the second floor. And it’s him. You know this guy. You’ve had many awkward elevator rides with him. A man with more width than height. More years behind him than ahead. You’ve greeted him a few times and only got a miserable mumble back.

Today starts the same. You flash a small smile. He presses the button for the third floor. He manages to eek out a sound that’s as close to hello as you’re going to get from him.

And then he eeks it out. A force you did not expect to deal with at seven o’ clock in the morning. A force that will have you taking the stairs from that day on.

Loud. Like a car revving in a swamp. Long. For what seems to be hours, it goes on. You can’t stop it once it’s begun, only hope you can bear the pain. It ends wet. You can try to cover your nose, but you’ll never be quick enough. It shoves itself right up your nostrils.

Don’t bother trying to ask him about what he could have possibly eaten for breakfast to concoct this olfactory violation. He’ll avoid eye contact and get off shortly after his butt burst.

Do not let this get to you. You need to contain your rage. It’s unfair that your eyes may be watering , but let it go. Your co-workers don’t deserve the bad mood you’ll be in if you dwell on this.

Focus on a memory, bad or good. Make it a strong one. One that will take you away from the elevator until the doors open and you’re free. The fate of your day is in your hands. It’s on you if you want to have a bad one.

My American Dream

(Written in April 2009)

This year I will graduate high school and head on to college. I have a variety of options set in front of me. I could be a doctor or join the military. Many people do not plan this out and simply remain stagnant in their lives. They are the same as the day they graduated from high school.

They have no ambitions. I see them all the time. They simply glide through life. They accomplish nothing and let their dreams go to waste. I will not become one of these people. My American dream is a simple and attainable one if I work at it. I want to be a successful attorney.

My short term goal is to obtain my Juris Doctorate and become a criminal justice attorney. An attorney is a person who ensures that justice is carried. It’s not who you arrested, but how. If an arrest is not made properly, then the system is corrupt. Justice must be fair and just. I know that attending Criminology classes at my college will change my perception of right and wrong for the better.

I plan to get my bachelor’s degree as quickly as possible. The bachelor’s degree is my primary objective for the next 4 years. If I fail to get my bachelor’s degree, my American dream cannot come true. The fruits of my labor will be twice as sweet when I gain my Juris Doctorate a few years later.

I used to dream of being married and having kids, but now I realize that to be something I cannot control. If it was a part of my American dream, I would not have a successful marriage. I would not view my wife as a person, but more as a trophy I gained along the way.

Marriage is not something a person should plan to happen when they are younger. You can never plan for love. Love is a construct which no one truly understands no matter how much they want. I’d like to have a wife and kids, but it is not my primary intention.

The American dream has taken many shapes and forms since its conception. It’s a shame that majority of Contemporary Americans don’t believe that it is attainable anymore. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is still alive today in America even with the recent economic downturn. I won’t let something like that interfere with goals and objectives.

People who are so easily put off their dreams never really wanted to obtain them. They allow their dreams to remain in their imagination.

I plan on turning mine in a reality. If a black man can be president, then anything is possible.

Never Give Up.

tragedy and pain

My Last Sob Story

“Woo Graduation!”

A lifetime ago, I etched these words inside of my high school graduation hat.

June 25th, 2009. A good day to graduate. Michael Jackson died that day.

We couldn’t contain our excitement that day; What a day that was.

Friends surrounded me on all sides. We made jokes about dropping out at the last second. We gasped together at the news of Michael Jackson’s death. And we suffered while our salutatorian rattled on and on about what her family meant to her. The girl wanted everyone to roast out there in the sun.

A clear blue sky lay above us like the world was proud of our accomplishments. Our families scrambling for their cameras. They snapped as many pictures as they could, trying to preserve a moment that had already passed. Everyone had the same beautiful smile on their face like peace had finally come to Earth.

One of my friends decided not to have that moment.

“Why?”

That was the question I kept pestering her wit. I tried to dissuade her. This was a once-in-a-lifetime happening. She shrugged her shoulders. She had better things to do.

My seventeen-year-old self couldn’t bring myself to entertain that idea. How could I no-show the biggest celebration in my life so far?

We fought our way through the public education system. Didn’t she want to feel like it was all worth something? All those absurd standardized tests that they shoved down her throat? All those ridiculous Didn’t she want to give her family that moment to enjoy her success? What could be better than basking in the glory of your achievement among those that you love?

On May 13th 2013, I her.

RISE

College was the best time of my life.

Before I went to college, I had no idea people from South Jersey didn’t believe Central Jersey existed. Or that there was feud between North and South Jersey.

There were such characters there. One of my dorm mates was an unkempt anti-establishment who despised jeans. I knew a tennis player who stopped playing tennis to start a rapping career.

My first night I watched a future great friend of mine rap Flo Rida’s Apple Bottom Jeans to an apathetic audience. He hopped up there and shouted at the crowd of other freshmen.

“Get on your feet. Come on everybody.”

Never before had I seen a crowd that unresponsive, to someone so energetic. That’s a memory I’ll treasure for years to come.

Every day had the potential to be a new adventure. A group of us bought dollar water guns. We were not supposed to have them. We also were not supposed to have a huge water gun fight spanning our entire dorm building. But we did anyway. We ran up and down stairs, hiding in elevators, waking up other residents. We got in trouble. We knew we would, but how could we pass up the opportunity? That was college.

There was so much freedom. In high school, everything was so rigid and calculated. You moved when the bells told you to. You went to school early in the morning and left when everyone else did. You had to even ask when you wanted to piss.

But in college, you didn’t have to go to class. You could go to other people’s classes and play an instrument if you wanted to. You could walk around in your pajamas, not bathe for days, and let your hair grow untamed. You were the master of your fate.

Is there a better joy in life than knowing you can do what you want whenever you want?

Of course with great power comes great irresponsibility. I had peers who crashed and burned right before my eyes, some within days of classes beginning. With no parental supervision or rigid schedule to adhere to, they became their own worst enemies. Their lives completely derailed by hedonism. Some are still picking up the pieces almost five years later.

I used the great power of freedom to go to my first wrestling live event. For a decade, I lived and breathed wrestling. Everybody hated Mondays, but I loved them. It meant another installment of Monday Night RAW. It was a cardinal sin in my household for me to even talk about it but I still caught RAW every week.

I walked 12 miles through a cold, snowy Trenton to get to the arena. All I had with me was a printed out Google Map and Have Heart blasting in my ears. Someone could have robbed, beaten up, or even murdered me. I was nearly run over by a car at an intersection. At one point I got completely lost. But who cares about danger when there’s wrestling!

When I entered that arena, my body shook like crazy in anticipation. There was the ring I saw every week on the show. The old ladies and obese men glared at me as I hollered and shouted throughout the show. They came to have a nice evening of entertainment. I came to have the time of my life! Even for the opening acts, I was on my feet until several people told me to sit down.

When I heard the opening guitar riff to CM Punk’s theme song, my heart skipped a beat. There he was. From my television screen to right in front of my eyes, the closest thing to a hero that I have. That was a mark out moment. The rest of the arena hated his guts. He was the biggest villain, a complete prick. He got right in fans’ faces, badmouthed New Jersey and beat on everyone’s hero, John Cena. I loved every second of it.

The power wasn’t all good for me. I got to do grocery shopping for myself. My meals consisted of Skittles, ice cream, snicker doodles, goldfish, Ritz crackers, Oreo’s, pop tarts, more skittles, assorted cookies, cinnamon toast crunch, Doritos, Tostitos and anything else with high fructose syrup. I may have lost four years of my life with my bad food choices. But it was so delicious.

I had the chance to delve into the film-making process and all the frustrations that go into it. I appreciate cinema a hell of a lot more now. Every movie made is a miracle. I’d consider the one short film that I wrote, produced, and directed to be the crowning achievement of my life so far. It’s not a great movie but it was in my brain and is now out there for everyone to see. My dreams brought to reality. That’s incredible. When we had our first script reading,

And boy did I ever write there. I had the chance to take two screen-writing classes when that’s not even allowed. Thanks crappy class selection system! I even got to listen to an Academy award winning screenwriter talk about his life. Without college I wouldn’t have this blog.

College gave me direction.

I’ll look back on the four years as life-changing

SINK

I remember writing my name down on that first student loan. There was a deep sink in my stomach, a ton of bricks weighing me down. I had a little less than two hundred dollars in my bank account at that time. I was borrowing thousands. I wasn’t even eighteen yet. My father assured me that this was the best decision for my future.

Not a day goes by that I don’t wish I would have told him, he was full of shit. But how could I have known then? My college was considered one of the best in the north east. My father said getting in was an accomplishment itself. I had to take that chance.

I didn’t know the terms of my student loan or how an interest rate worked. I didn’t understand the concept of looking around for better rates or getting money from other sources. I didn’t think of delaying my college education for years until I had enough money to pay it off. I didn’t think much at all. I acted.

I started in college with a dream that I’d become lawyer. After a mock trial in eighth grade, I thought it was a good fit. My major was criminology. But after only two classes, I learned the realities of our justice system and found it morally bankrupt. It was a system not set up to help, but to exploit people. There was no justice. People could walk away from crimes because of who they knew or how much money they had. The system was racially biased. I wanted no part in it. So then I had to answer the question we all struggle to answer. What do I want to do with my life?

My father said I was a strong writer so I should drift towards journalism. I had no objections. Journalism was new to me so.

I wanted to love reporting. I’d listen to news radio and read Huffington Post, Fox News, MSNBC. I’d write for the campus newspaper when given the chance. My life depended on me falling in love with my new major. But my heart never was into it. My professor would bring in professional journalists from different beats to our class. With each of them, a realization came over me. I didn’t want to follow down any of their paths. I spent thousands to learn a craft I didn’t love.

Oh no. What could I do about it? I couldn’t get that time back nor could I refund my money. Trapped.

I wanted to go back to seventeen, to that day on my high school football field. Back to when I had everything in front of me. Back when I had to the power to do or become anything.

I came to another crossroads in my junior year. I could have left. My life’s future didn’t depend on that piece of paper. I had value with or without the degree. I could save me. I’d cut my losses and take on the world.

My father disagreed. I had one more year to go. Why not finish it off? Suck it up and write for a newspaper. What would I do without college?

I didn’t know. I knew I’d have control and a genuine smile on my face if I went down that way. But what became of people without degrees? Weren’t they failures who flipped burgers or worked overtime at low paying jobs? Would I end up like one of them?

I took the easier path, the known path. I locked myself in for that final year. Then immediately started to hate myself. Everyone told me I made the right choice, but it made no difference to me. I saw myself as this coward. I acted out of fear. I could not live up to my words. I was an unjust man.

There were days where I’d get down on myself. All my problems would run through my head at once especially in those last few months. I’d blame myself for everything that had happened to me. I deserved my misery. I’d sit in class, not hear a word the professor would say. All I could see and hear was the past.

That time I threw a pen out the window and got detention. That time I took the blame for ripping down all. That time I called a friend . That time I missed the bus and had to walk home for the first time. That time I let down my father and missed. That time I tried to make friends and was instead mocked. That time my gym teacher mispronounced my name. That time That time my father said he was losing interest in me. That time I apologized to someone and they didn’t care. That time a friend tossed me away like I was trash. That time I nearly drowned to death as a child. That time I burst into tears in seventh grade.That time I stood on stage and forgot all my lines. That time That time I didn’t stand up and help a bullied friend. That time my grandfather died and I saw him laying there, lifeless.

These memories and more would swarm in my head, blocking out the present. Each one bubbling to the surface with that old pain cutting me again. My shitty life so far flashing in front of me. I couldn’t focus on homework. I couldn’t focus on applying for jobs. I couldn’t focus on the future nor did I want to. Because the future scared me. It was the pain that had yet to come.

Did I really want to wake up everyday and wither away right before my own eyes? Crow’s feet, bone aches, popping pills to keep going. Did I really want to live on and forget who I am? Or where I came from? What good was there in the future? Marriage? Children? I had zero interest in both of those things. What then for me? Work 40 hours a week for the next thirty to forty years so I can survive? Why the hell would I want to do that? Is there no escaping that reality?

I sought out a solution to my unsolvable problem. How could I escape the future? Time can’t be stopped. Each day I’d slip closer and closer out of one miserable existence into another. There had to be a way.

Then this devious morbid thought creeped into my head. What if I wasn’t around any more? What if there were no more me. What if I clocked out early?

On my worst days, I’d imagine the fallout. Never how I would do it. But what came next.

I’d be put on one of those funeral cards that my parent receive with a nice picture of the person. Smiling as big as they can, like they don’t have a clue what’s happened to them. Friends, family, and people who pretended to care about me gathering around my fresh corpse to mourn. I’d be there except not me at all, fitted with a suit I’d never wear and dressed up to be presentable for the ceremony. A solemn mood. Lots of black clothes. Crying? Yeah. My mother would be in shambles. My father stoic as always. And my brother, I can’t say for sure. Angry maybe. Confused like he often is. A pastor would talk, say some great things about me that he’d have never said if I were alive. There would be anger.

“Why?”

The question running through everyone’s heads. Could they have seen this coming? What did they miss?

Then they’d put me six feet under as part of the ritual.

There would be some lingering sentiment, but it would pass. Pain that would fade away. Life goes on. The world won’t stop for one dead boy. So why not?

I didn’t want to be dead. Death is not a solution to a problem. It’s the end of you.

This girl at my school jumped off the George Washington Bridge and killed herself during our last semester. For weeks she was missing before her body was finally found. I never knew the girl but it sounded like she had her entire life ahead of her. Her narrative came to a complete stop. She won’t ever conquer her demons or move to the next step. She’s gone.

What I wanted was to escape my life and all the obligations that came with it. I wanted room to breathe. Death wouldn’t give me that. I wanted to just live.

In college I learned to love solitary walks at night. Away from everyone. I’d gaze down a street and wonder what would happen if I followed it. See where the road would take me. I’d have my days where the temptation to walk further overcame me. I’d press on. The familiar streets would fade away behind me. My college long gone. My hometown miles away. I’d move on and all my problems would melt away behind me. My friends, my family, my identity. Away. Away. Away from it all. Each step taking me onto a new life, giving me back control.

But I’d stop. I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t leave that behind. What would I do? Where would I even go?

I’d make the solemn trek back to my life.

My life where I am the odd one out; different, peculiar, and most of all, weird. Even the people who put me here don’t know what to make of me. The apple has fallen as far from the tree as it can. Whether it’s on some online forum, a family get-together, or in class , I am out of place. Always have been, always will be. I understand that now.

“A sense of belonging is not a privilege that you enjoy.”

I am the single drop of oil in an ocean of water, a corruption of the natural flow of life. An aberration.

I left college, this feeble self-pitying husk; so full of fear of the future. The wind could have blown me over.

“Congratulations!”

Everyone kept repeating that. Again and again on that day they set up to honor us. May 17th, 2013.

I thought up scenarios where I could fail my classes at the last minute and not have to take that walk of shame. But my stupid geology professor passed me even though I couldn’t tell the difference between a stalagmite and Vegemite.

Graduation day was a hot day, damn hot. My housemates and I had to walk to campus. To say we were sweating is an understatement. I thought about what a stupid tradition the graduation gowns were.

As we fanned ourselves with our hats, the neighborhood came out to congratulate us as we made our way to the university.

Gosh. I still remember opening the door to my department’s graduation ceremony. All the experiences that separated me and my seventeen-year-old self flowed through me. I couldn’t shake off this feeling of defeat.

Everyone had that same dumb smiles on their face. Why the hell were they so happy? I didn’t I was the sole frown in the room. My mother told me to cheer up. This was my day.

I sat around strangers and acquaintances. I didn’t know any of the people called up for their awards. These were my peers.

They called my name. I got pity golf claps.

My professor had a grand smile. One of her students had graduated and was on to the next step in their life.
She congratulated me with the utmost enthusiasm.

No matter what she handed to me, in my own head. I would be a failure and a coward. She could not wipe away my regret or alleviate my torment.

She handed me my prize, what I set out to achieve when I signed my name down on student loan; a folder to hold my degree in.

I feigned a smile for her. It was the least I could do; not make a scene and let my true feelings come out. This was a day of celebration not time for a grumpy young man to vent.

I don’t remember what I wrote in my college graduation hat before I tossed it away.

A year later, I still have this sour taste in my mouth whenever someone brings up college. I could never win there. I lost so much. I lost my bravery. I gained twenty pounds. I lost my self-respect. I grew a ratty beard. I lost my confidence. I lost my motivation. And I paid for all that. I paid with more money than I’ve had in life.

For the past year, my life became this self-pity party. Oh woe is me. I wanted my life to be this long winded sob story. I’d blot out the good parts to fit a narrative.

I am sad and angry because the world is cruel. Happiness is an accident, that time when you forget your troubles. Happiness is delusion. That time when you lie to yourself because you’re afraid of the world. You should fear the world. It’s full of pain, sorrow, and hollow victories. Why try? The world will destroy anything you create.

Is that the narrative I want my life to follow? Can I change it? Should I? Do I want to?

Aberration

What of he who belongs nowhere?

Not to any creed, nor any faith?

Not to his companions nor his country?

Not even to his own kin?

Not by his own doing.

Ousted. Ostracized.

A rejected creature.

And how did he come to be?

Is he a defect?

A broken creation?

Or an unsightly mutation?

It isn’t known.

And what is to become of him?

Have he not a home?

No. Forever a stranger to the world.

Should we pity the beast? Or put it out of its misery?

rubber-duck-in-desert-david-buffington

Higher Education

There would be no commemoration for the man, no photographs of him would be placed in campus pamphlets, no plaques would be made for him, no buildings named after him. The degree would be handed off and his parents would scream in delight, but the man would stand there and look off into the distance with a distinct look of emptiness and disappointment.

Image

I am a monster.

I’ve tried to cover up this truth. I wanted to be like the others. Each lesson that my mother and society tried to instill in me never worked. The first signs came early. I was too young to notice that my true nature was something far from those around me. A monster is still a monster even if it doesn’t know it is one. The earliest sign was when my mother grew very ill around the time I was six. I could only think about how I had to make food myself and how annoying that was. I never cared that my mother was lying in bed unable to get up for days. She recovered, but it didn’t mean much to me.

My mother told me many stories when I was a child. My favorite was always the one with the serpent causing the fall of man. The serpent ruins everything.

He’s just a snake, not a massive creature like a dragon. It can’t fly. It’s not physically imposing. He has no fire but he burns their paradise to ashes. He didn’t use his teeth or poison to kill the two fools. His only weapon was his tongue. With his words, he had more might than an infinitely powerful being. He had enough wit and cunning to get the two to disobey. The serpent did not fear the repercussions from a being that could turn him to dust or end his existence. He didn’t care. His nature was to deceive and cause suffering. And he gets what he wanted. He achieves it in the face of opposition that is limitless in power.  I admired that snake. He was the first true monster I was told about.

My mother called that story the fall of man. The lesson I was supposed to take away from it was to obey. I did for many years after that. After she told the story,  I always asked my mother questions about the serpent.  The serpent was in paradise. Why would it cause the ruin of it? Wasn’t it happy there? She could never give me a good answer.

I spent the majority of my youth concerned with my grades. I wasn’t happy. I was just stressed. I completed my work as best as I could. I outperformed everyone, but each accolade I received meant nothing to me. The yellow honor roll paper lined the floor of my room. I had no true purpose to be on this planet. I didn’t find it in the textbooks I put my eyes to for hours. It wasn’t in the words of my teachers’ lectures. I didn’t find it in the standardized tests the government thought that I needed to take.  I didn’t find one until a boy who called himself my friend cheated off of me on a test. He thought he was my friend, but I’ve never had any real connection with any other person. I’ve touched lips with women. I’ve shook hands and hugged many blood relatives. But I’d never say that I liked any of them. The boy had told me in the past that his father would beat him if he didn’t pass this class. I had noticed him during the test glancing over at my paper. We made eye contact. He winked at me, a sign that I should let him continue to leech off of my work After we took the test, he nodded toward me. A sign that he was glad to be a parasite.

The test results came back. And we both had perfect scores. The teacher asked me in front of the class if I had been tutoring the boy. It was here that my true nature came out. The boy and I were in paradise. We were both getting what we wanted. But why wasn’t I happy? I told the teacher that the boy had cheated off of me. Not because of academic ethics or integrity or any garbage like that. I did it to see if I would feel different. If I would feel something. And I did. As I watched the boy have his test ripped up in front of the class, I felt up. I wanted to laugh. He broke down and cried as the teacher called his father. His tears warmed my heart more than any perfect score on a test did. More than any friend’s smile or wink ever could.

My words changed the course of his life. He was expelled. My words cast him out of my school. I saw him a week later in a grocery store. His eye was purple and bruised. I didn’t feel sorry for him as he told me what his father did to him. In fact this put a smile on my face. He asked me why I did it. I just winked at him and then left. I couldn’t help but to taunt him while he was down.

I realized why the serpent did what it did. What is success if everyone is successful? What is happiness if everyone is happy? Not everyone should win. There must be losers. It is not enough that I must be successful, others must fail. They must fail substantially and they must hate me for my success.

The smiles of others bring me no happiness. The touch of a lover is not something that can bring me joy unless it is the lover of another person. I couldn’t cover it up any more after that day. I don’t know why I ever tried to. After that day, I spoke up my accomplishments. I would always rub it in the faces of people who tried but couldn’t have them. I turned meaningless grades and tests into my greatest tool. People hated me for it. I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I am a monster like that serpent. We have the same weapon, our cunning tongues. That is my axiomatic truth.

What is it?

You can throw words at it. You can try to explain it away but you never get close enough. You try to use your best analogies but language fails you. You can say it’s like a burning sensation in your chest. Or a euphoric feeling that fills the body. But that just doesn’t seem right.

You can look up what scientists have said about it. They say it’s just a chemical in the brain, but that doesn’t help you gain any further understanding. You lie to yourself and say you understand it now. But you know you don’t.

You can try to read what other people have said but it never seems quite the same once it happens to you. It’s different for everyone. Sometimes you expect it. Other times it just hits you in the face and you’re stuck with it.

You try to figure out what it takes to satisfy this. Is it an urge? Is it just something that passes by? Is it wrong? Should it go away? Sometimes you need it to go away but it doesn’t. And other times it disappears when you weren’t paying attention.

You hate yourself for it when you need it gone. You see yourself as weak. You can’t get this monkey off your back. Is it an obsession? Do you need help? But nobody can help you. It’s different for everyone.

You lie to yourself and say that it is gone or that you never had it. You put on an act to convince yourself. You say it was never there or you misunderstood your feelings. It just sits there simmering in you waiting to pop out.

You either give in or torture yourself. You’ll regret not giving in. You’ll regret giving in. It seems impossible to win.

But what is it? A chemical? A word you should say with caution? A reason to make big mistakes? Just what is this thing?

I’ll never understand.

Bizarro De Bizarro

Bloom. Bloom. Bloom. If you’ve ever stopped and listened in the middle of spring, you could hear the sound of a flower blossoming. Many don’t believe the sound exists. Those people cannot enjoy the simple things in life.

Children can enjoy the mundane things about life. If you leave a child alone with some cardboard, you could discover many different things when you return. Perhaps the child will have made the cardboard into a hat or a house depending on how much you left. Some children are not very creative and would just chew on the cardboard.

But an adult? They would just see garbage or nothing at all. This isn’t the case with all, but it’s what to be expected of adults. An adult is a not allowed to wear cardboard on their head. They’re not supposed to spend their day climbing trees and getting dirty. An adult is expected to pay the bills, get married, have children, and aid society. Where there was once imagination is now pragmatism. This is not always the case with every person.

But for those who lose their imagination when does it happen? When does a person lose their sense of adventure? Why does the imagination seem to die in some people as they edge closer towards their death? You would think with the inevitability of death, that people would want to do as much as possible. They would want to their life to be flexible. They would want to be free,.

But an adult is not free. They are tethered by bills. They are tethered by debts. They are tethered to obligations and responsibility. A ten year old can spend their day eating Doritos and watching cartoons with friends. A twenty year old should spend their day working for money and planning for the future. Adults who aren’t tethered are seen as bizarre. Adults who can hear the sound of flowers blossoming are few in numbers. If you asked a child to listen for the sound, they would try. If you asked an adult, they would say stop wasting my time.

Time. Once you truly understand, it becomes your worst enemy. You can never have enough of it. Your time in school will come to an end. Your time with your friends will come to an end. Your time on this planet will come to an end. In a mere two hundred years, you and  your friends will be forgotten.  Unless you have power.

Every memory you have is almost pointless. Once your brain slowly deteriorates, it almost doesn’t matter anymore how much you enjoyed that time you and your friends went to Six Flags. It almost doesn’t matter that time you almost drowned and shouted your friend’s name. It’s almost meaningless. It’s only completely meaningless once you’re dead.

Some people are already dead. They walk around as husks of meat. Worried about all their problems and never sit down to listen to the flowers blossom. They spend their lives obsessed with time. How much time it takes to get to and from work. How much time it will take them to pay off their student loans. How much time do they have left.

The sound of flowers blossoming isn’t very loud. It’s easy to imagine why nobody ever hears it.